Islamic jihadis have “declared war on Canada and its allies,” posing a grave threat and justifying sweeping new surveillance of terrorist suspects, Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney said Wednesday as he headed to a summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on countering violent extremism.
Mr. Obama has sought to avoid stigmatizing Islam and drawn fire from critics for his refusal to finger any religion. But Mr. Blaney was blunt and direct in accusing radical Islam as the fundamental threat.
“Canadians are being targeted by jihadi terrorists simply because these terrorists hate our society and the values it represents,” Mr. Blaney said, using the Arab word for struggle found in the Koran which – in modern political Islam – has become inextricably associated with groups like Islamic State.
In Washington, the focus of the three-day conclave was on measures to avoid disaffected youth from being lured into extremism and new outreach efforts to engage religious and community leaders in an effort to address the alienation of those susceptible to violent extremism.
In his keynote speech Wednesday, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of taking the long view and winning the battle for hearts and minds, not just seeking military victory on the battlefield.
He appealed directly to prominent Muslims to do more to distance themselves from brutal ideologies and to foster relationships with young Muslims who are particularly susceptible to extremist propaganda.
“Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the narrative from Islamist militants that Western nations are in a war against Islam.
Youth workers, lawmakers and police chiefs from dozens of countries gathered in Washington for the summit, as well as senior intelligence and security-service officials. The aim was to swap ideas as part of an international outreach effort to counter the now-proven ability of extremist groups to use social media to find, indoctrinate and radicalize individuals.
“There will be a military component to this,” said Mr. Obama, who has launched an air war against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and turned to drones armed with Hellfire missiles to target al-Qaeda and other extremist leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. “There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped,” he added, referring to the beheading and immolation of hostages that have revulsed the world in recent months.
But Mr. Obama spent most of his White House speech to focus on a need that he said was greater than military force. “We are not at war with Islam,” he said to applause. “We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.
He said “no religion is responsible for terrorism,” and told the gathering that the international community needs to “address the grievances that the terrorists exploit” including widespread feeling of injustice and oppression in much of the Muslim world.
And Mr. Obama warned “it will take time, this is a generational challenge.”
Parallel to the summit on Countering Violent Extremism, the United States is also hosting a ministerial-level meeting intended to improve information sharing to identify, monitor and track radical suspects, especially as they move to and return from combat zones.
Canada along with Albania, Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, the European Union, France, Germany, Indonesia, INTERPOL, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations are represented.
Mr. Blaney said new measures proposed by the Conservative government in Ottawa will give “security agencies and front-line police the tools they need to protect Canadians against the ever evolving threat of terrorism,” adding they will help “prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups to commit acts of terrorism.”
Mr. Obama’s view that the struggle against radical extremism will be a long one and his effort to enlist the Muslim community has drawn fire from some hawks who want a much tougher crackdown at home and more military action abroad.
Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said that instead of Mr. Obama simply making speeches, he wanted “the President to overhaul his strategy and to develop a bold, actionable plan to confront violent Islamist extremism worldwide and to immediately staunch the flow of fighters.”
The President has taken a far more inclusive stance. With “al-Qaeda and ISIL [another name for the Islamic State group] peddling the lie that the United States is at war with Islam, all of us have a role to play by upholding the pluralistic values that define us as Americans,” he said in an op-ed published on Wednesday. “This week, we’ll be joined by people of many faiths, including Muslim Americans who make extraordinary contributions to our country every day. It’s a reminder that America is successful because we welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds.”
With a report from Reuters
Somaliland Head To Polls For Councillors And MPs On May 31, 2021 Last updated May 31, 2021
Voters in the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland are heading to the polls on May, 31 to choose their member of parliament for the first time since 2005.
Somaliland broke off from mainland Somalia after the regime of Siad Barre in 1991.
The 5.2 Million citizens of Somaliland will be making yet another stab at global recognition as some 1.3 million voters head to the polls to choose 82 members of parliament and 247 local councils.
An election whose measure of democracy Somaliland hopes to use in its quest to certify its sovereignty.
Somaliland’s three political parties in the polls are opposition politicians Faisal Warabe’s UCID, Wadani led by another opposition leader Abdirahman Erye and President Muse Bihi Kulmiye party.
The elections is observed by over a hundred international observers including Uganda’s former opposition leader, Kizza Besigye and ex-president of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Korma.
”Our visit to the headquarters of the Somaliland National Electoral Commission left us with a good impression about the Commission’s preparedness to conduct peaceful and credible elections,” said in a Twitter post.
The elections are taking place in six regions of Somaliland, namely Awdal, Sahil, Marodi-Jeeh, Toghdeer, Sanaag and Sool.
3 Somalia Regional States Say No To Farmaajo Term Extension.
The regional state leaders of Southwest, HirShabelle, and Galmudug allied with incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo have opposed to any form of extension on Tuesday evening.
In a joint statement Galmudug and HirShabelle called for dialogue based on 17 September pact.
“We agreed that the country should hold elections as soon as possible and that any form of extension should be abolished,” read part of the joint statement by HirShabelle and Galmudug.
Southwest leader Abdiaziz laftagaren also opposed the term extension of the President just an hour after Galmudug and HirShabelle released a joint statement.
The move by the three regional states allied to President was welcomed by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who also instructed the military commanders to pull back forces to their locations and barracks.
“I would like to welcome the press statements made by Galmudug and HirShabelle federal states, ” PM Roboe said in a statement.
“I call on the FMS states of Puntland and Jubaland and Benadir region to fully commit to a peaceful process in our efforts to hold free and inclusive election, ” he added.
United Nations, United Kingdom, United States and opposition leaders including former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud commended the move by the regional states.
“The UN in Somalia noting statements by Qoorqqor, Ali Gudlawe, PM Roble and others recalls int’l partners position: consensus is vital for any electoral process; only 17 September model can be endorsed by FGS and all FMS; all parties must reject violence and resume dialogue, ” the United Nations said.
The development comes as families in some parts of Mogadishu fleed from their residences and moved to other district followings clashes.
Somali Gov’t Warns Al-Shabaab & ISIS Will Capitalize On SNA Faction Clashes.
Somali National Security Minister Hassan Hundubey has warned opposition groups to be wary of “unknown elements” including Al-Shabaab and Daesh who might seek to use the current crisis to inflict harm to the public.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday said that the government may take action to confront people with the “behaviour of militias” who are taking advantage of the situation.
“The government has enough troops to take control of the city. It is Ramadan, but more actions need to be taken to prevent it.” mr. Hundebey said.
”The reason the prime minister called for dialogue is that the government does not want the fighting to affect the residence,” he added.
The remarks by the interior minister come hours after the international partners strongly condemned the outbreak of violence in the capital.
“We are alarmed especially by the emerging fragmentation of the Somali National Army along clan lines, which detracts from its primary task of combating Al Shabab and protecting the Somali population. Use of security forces for the pursuit of political objectives is unacceptable” the statement read in part.
As tensions increase in Mogadishu following Sunday clashes between government soldiers and those who were against President Farmaajo’s two years term extension.